UPDATE: Since this article was posted, President Obama used the Antiquities Act to create the "Rio Grande del Norte National Monument." NM BHA appluaded habitat protection in the Rio Rio Grande National Monument in a recent press release. A map of the habitat protected through this desgination can be found here or on the BLM's official Rio Grande del Norte web page.
New Mexico Backcountry Hunters & Anglers proudly support a proposal to permanently protect critical big game habitat in the Rio Grande del Norte. Located in Northern New Mexico, the Rio Grande del Norte provides critical wintering habitat for a migratory elk herd that spends the warmer months in Colorado. The area is well-used by sportsmen and offers excellent elk and antelope hunting, fair deer hunting, as well as opportunities to pursue bear and cougar. As one of the first rivers in the country to be designated as a "Wild and Scenic", Northern stretches of the Rio Grande provides clean water and great trout fishing for anglers looking for waters off the beaten path.
The current proposal is for either a National Conservation Area or National Monument. Both proposals would protect prime backcountry habitat and hunting/fishing by keeping the area as it is right now - largely free from development, yet actively used by sportsmen, ranchers and tourists alike. Both proposals include small wilderness areas: San Antonio Wilderness in the Northwest corner and the Cerro de Yuta Wilderness in the Northeast. For a map of the proposed area, click here.
BHA is working closely with the New Mexico Wildlife Federation and Trout Unlimited, to protect this area for future generations of sportsmen. As outfitter Mark Casias recently put it in a Taos News Op-Ed "to me, the Río Grande del Norte means star-filled nights, standing around the fire in hunting camp, listening to our dads telling stories about their childhood experiences with friends and family: How they hiked down the bajada of the Río Grande to fish, how they hunted for the winter supply of venison that they dried because there was no refrigeration."
The traditional land uses in the Rio Grande del Norte have changed little over the years. NM BHA is dedicated to ensuring this is how it stays. If you are interested in helping to protect New Mexico's wildest waters and habitat, please contact us here.
(photo credit Taylor Streit)